I-2-8-15.Recommended Decisions

Last Update: 9/2/05 (Transmittal I-2-63)

A. Conditions for Issuing a Recommended Decision

  1. The ALJ must issue a recommended decision if one of the following conditions exist:

    • The Appeals Council has directed the ALJ to issue a recommended decision, or

    • The ALJ is prepared to issue a decision on a claimant's application which would conflict with a prior ALJ or Appeals Council decision on another claimant's (adverse party's) application. For example, an ALJ is prepared to issue a decision finding that the claimant is the widow of a deceased wage earner and entitled to benefits. However, in a prior final decision, an ALJ found another person to be the widow of the same wage earner. Thus, the ALJ's decision would conflict with the prior decision. A recommended decision will permit the Appeals Council to consider the combined records and assure that actions on both applications are correct and consistent.

  2. An ALJ may issue a recommended decision any time at his or her discretion.


When an ALJ issues a recommended decision, the Appeals Council will review the recommended decision and issue the final decision of the Commissioner unless the Council remands the case for further action by an ALJ or, in a non-court case or in a court case which involves a sentence four remand order, dismisses the request for hearing for any reason the ALJ could have dismissed it.


ALJs are no longer required to issue recommended decisions when a prior claim is pending judicial review. (See I-2-8-16, Administrative Law Judge Decision When a Prior Claim Is Pending Judicial Review.)

B. Format and Content of a Recommended Decision

The format and content of a recommended decision is the same as a final decision except that:

  • the word “RECOMMENDED” is added to the heading of the decision; and

  • the decisional paragraph identifies the decision as a recommended decision.

C. Notice of a Recommended Decision

The notice which transmits the recommended decision to the claimant will advise the claimant that he or she has 20 days from the date of receipt of the recommended decision to file with the Appeals Council briefs, exceptions, or other written statements as to the applicable facts and law.


Do not use the preprinted transmittal notice which contains information regarding the right to request review by the Appeals Council.

D. Routing a Recommended Decision

  • Prepare an HA-L48 (Transmittal by Office of Disability Adjudication and Review) by adding the following in the “REMARKS” section:


  • Using the transmittal, send the recommended decision, audio recording, and claim file to:

    Office of Disability Adjudication and Review, SSA
    Office of Appellate Operations
    Attention: Executive Director's Office
    5107 Leesburg Pike
    Falls Church, VA 22041-3255

    Do Not Forward to OAO Megasite